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The history of the classic Mimosa

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1936 | Paris, France

The Buck’s Club gentlemen’s club opened in 1919 in London. We’ll start from there - or, more accurately, from its founder, Captain Herbert Buckmaster, who had already decided in the trenches of the Great War that he would open an elegant club with a cocktail bar in the American style.

His dream came true and the club flourished; meanwhile, Buckmaster married the famous actress Gladys Cooper, whom he soon divorced but maintained his connections to her English bohemian circles. When he went to parties of both theatrical and alcoholic inclinations, Buckmaster often brought his own bartender, Pat McGarry, with him.

On one of these evenings, Pat got an order for a Bellini, which one of the guests had recently tried in Italy. But London is no Venice: there wasn’t a single suitable peach to be found. The clever Scot came up with his own recipe by adding a certain secret ingredient to a glass of champagne and orange juice, which many scholars are inclined to believe was cherry or pomegranate liqueur mixed with gin. The presence of gin in the recipe is described with authority by Frank Meyer in his book on the Ritz in Paris, published in 1936. There, the simplified version of the Bucks’ Fizz also first appears: orange juice and champagne without any additions, which later got the name Mimosa, or Champagne Orange.

Insofar as Cesar Ritz, the founder of the hotel chain of the same name, had a relationship with Grand Marner, that orange-flavored cognac-based liqueur gradually became ubiquitous on the hotel’s cocktail menu. Hence, the Grand Mimosa. Under one pseudonym or another, the mix became famous in the 1930s outside the boundaries of Paris and London. Soon, everything came full circle, and at Giuseppe Cipriani’s Venice bar - Harry’s Bar -  it was the Mimosa that replaced the Bellini on the cocktail menu when peaches weren’t in season.

See the recipe


Historian: Vladimir Zhuravlev

Illustration: Mine

Journalists: Sara Davis, Samantha Johnson

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